In the world of professional wrestling, drug use and abuse is as synonymous with the business as what takes place inside the squared circle. Stories from retired pro wrestlers regarding drug excess have become the stuff of legend within the business and among its most passionate and dedicated followers.
However, the use of hard drugs in the pro wrestling business also has a dark side. Since 2000, the following pro wrestlers (with age at time of death in parentheses) have died either directly from hard drug abuse or from years of it:
Road Warrior Hawk (46)
The Wall (37)
Eddie Guerrero (37)
Bam Bam Bigelow (45)
Sensational Sherri (49)
Doink the Clown (55)
Reid Flair (25)
Lance Cade (29)
Luna Vachon (48)
Mr. Perfect (44)
Crash Holly (32)
The British Bulldog (39)
Even one of the business' most beloved valets fell victim to hard drugs as the 2003 death of Miss Elizabeth (42) was due to a combination of alcohol and painkillers.
There's no quick fix for a major drug problem within a sport or specific area of life. But when it comes to pro wrestling in America, marijuana could be the answer to the business' hard drug epidemic.
To solve an addiction problem, arguably the most important thing to do is to identify the catalyst for the addiction. Sure, plenty of those in pro wrestling who get addicted to hard drugs have addictive personalities, but it isn't across the board. And a major reason for more and more wrestlers getting addicted to hard drugs is pain management.
In the world of pro wrestling, pain comes with the territory. Yes, the results are predetermined, but that doesn't mean that injuries and plenty of nagging pain don't go along with the job.
In today's wrestling business, the bumps (falls onto the back) are bigger, harder and at times extremely dangerous, and the more high-flying and high-impact styles of wrestlers are also a contributing factor to the almost constant soreness and pain that these athletes experience during their careers.
Then there's the hectic schedules pro wrestlers can have. In WWE, wrestlers work over 300 days per year; in any other American promotion, a wrestler works around half of the year plus any and all outside bookings they can get.
With recent testimonials and evidence showing marijuana as a potential treatment for back, neck, and head injuries, you would think that a business where neck, back, and head injuries are commonplace, those at the top would want to utilize this for the well-being of their business and employees.
To an extent, WWE is doing this. According to the promotion's wellness policy, marijuana is only punished with a $2,500 fine for each positive test.
But that's not enough. Because the thought of losing money is enough to scare someone away from marijuana as an option for their pain.
In reality, the best marijuana policy in pro wrestling would be to mimic the NHL's marijuana policy: don't punish people for using it and don't even test for it.
This is a thought shared by several former pro wrestlers, including Kevin Nash and Sean “Val Venis” Morley, as well as semi-active veteran pro wrestler Rob Van Dam. While Van Dam's use and promotion of marijuana has gone throughout his pro wrestling career, Nash and Morley found marijuana to be a pain reliever in the years following their in-ring careers.
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And that is the real positive impact that marijuana could have on the pro wrestling business: it could help keep wrestlers from having to retire early or having to retire with bodies far more broken down than they should be.
With common pain-relief methods showing mostly negative results, it's time for pro wrestling to try something new, but familiar.